Usually, when we think about how to succeed in our own business, we favour things such as sufficient cash flow and capital. This is absolutely true, but this is a product of decisions we have already taken. We need to focus on the core drivers of the company’s success. There will be certain businesses where technology alone makes them work, but these are rare. For the rest of us to be successful, we need three critical skills: the ability to master our time, to clone ourselves and to be persuasive.
How we spend our time is the highest-value resource we have. More than money, it makes or breaks our business. Poor time control leads to inefficiency, wasted efforts, stress and missed opportunities. Entrepreneurs are geniuses at trying to do too much. This means they are run ragged with time demands and no good solutions.
This has to be turned around and time gotten under firm control. Start with a simple audit of where you allocate your time now. Create a spreadsheet and track your time usage in 30-minute blocks for a week. Brace yourself for a huge shock. Next, compile a list of what needs to be done by you, and rank the items in order of importance. Compare the audit reality with your prioritised list of what you should be doing. You can’t be bothered doing this? Wake up! The gap between where you are now and where you need to be will be massive.
Take our list and this mantra: I can’t do everything on this list every day, but I can do the most important thing. Each day take that list and re-work the order, deciding the number one priority for your business and complete that. Next, you take number two and work on that, etc. If something crops up, change the priority order, but stick to the discipline of doing the highest-value item first.
Being so busy is a result of not having trusted the people around us to whom we can delegate. We must get leverage through our team. But we don’t. We cannot find the time to develop them, so we are stuck like a rat on the treadmill. Don’t be that rat. Don’t let projects stagnate, things fall through the cracks, or important work not get started. Also don’t get carted off to hospital with angina or ulcers.
Getting a better grip on your time will create space to spend on training your key people. Don’t fluff the delegation process because you are clueless on how to do it. Don’t just dump stuff on people expecting them to magically get it and somehow be able to come back with excellent work. Stop dreaming; it won’t happen.
Have a meeting with the delegatee where you explain the task in terms of how this is designed to help them grow and succeed in the business. Talk in terms of their interests not yours. Help them to lead the design of how it should be done, have them take ownership and then monitor the milestones to make sure they are on track. Praise them on the way through, not just at the end and have a celebration when they complete the task.
Investors, potential new staff, valuable existing staff and clients all need your persuasive ability to impress and keep them happy. If you are an unclear, unimpressive speaker, it is hard to get people to believe in you and follow you. You can be a tyrant, but let me know how that is working out for you. Honey does better than vinegar when it comes to communicating with people. You will never work it out on your own. Get the necessary speaking training and stop kidding yourself.
Master time, grow the leverage throughout your team and learn how to inspire people. Get on to it. Engaged employees are self-motivated. The self-motivated are inspired. Inspired staff grow your business, but are you inspiring them?